Improving the knowledge and skills of closed institutions and prison staff in working with children – a comparative study (Social programs to reduce risk behaviour)

In 2020, 834 crimes and 4,239 misdemeanours were registered as juvenile offences in Estonia. The most common crimes committed by young people were thefts and physical abuse. The most common misdemeanours are alcohol and drug use, petty theft, traffic offenses and smoking.  

Estonian legislation is based on the concept of child-friendly justice in cases of juvenile offence, which includes prevention, training, intervention and support based on the best interests and rights of the child. Thus, prevention aims to reduce recurrent and serious offenses.  

The aim of the study is to find social programme(s) suitable for use in closed institutions, prisons and probation in Estonia, to support positive behavior and/or reduce negative behaviour through attitudes, knowledge or experience. 

The study analyses and compares science and evidence-based social programmes used in Estonia and elsewhere, which are aimed at young people with assistance needs and risky behaviour, in order to help them to develop their social skills, improve their ability to cope with emotions and shape values. The study will explore the content and science-based evidence of the programmes, including the logic that supports behaviour change, experience, past performance and the factors that influence it. Based on the experience of implementation so far and the positive and negative aspects of implementation of these programme(s) in the Estonian context, certain programme(s) will be selected that could be used in closed institutions and in probation in Estonia. 

In order to compare the programmes, the study will analyse secondary sources, interview specialists related to the programmes and the field work and discuss the possible use and effectiveness of different programmes in Estonia with experts in the field.